9 Semesters: A College Time Capsule

On this blog I have previously shared photos I have taken on my alma mater SUNY Oswego's campus, as well as the many views I captured from my dorm room, and even photos I took in the city of Oswego and other locations in central New York.  Recently, though, in digging through some old photos, I realized I never made a post that focused on daily life as a student at SUNY Oswego.  So here you go!  These photos were captured from 2005-2009, and while some of them have been included in past posts, many of them have not.  Collectively they will give you a glimpse into college life in the mid-2000s.

My half of my first dorm room in Hart Hall, fall 2005.  This was taken either the day I moved in or shortly thereafter.  My archaic Windows operating system and my early model iPod in the bottom right corner clearly date this photo.  I remember my 18-year-old self thought the blue and bright green bedding colors were so edgy!  My 34-year-old self is now saying, "Um, ok...."

In the spring semester of 2006 I took a course called "Paris:  A Global City."  The course culminated in a week-long trip to Paris.  While I was there, I witnessed my first protest (a fairly common occurrence in Paris).  Parisians were protesting a new law that made it easy to fire a young person from their first job.  I accidentally found myself in the middle of the protest on my way back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing, and I admit I thought I was so cool for having survived getting (mildly) teargassed.  The above photo shows graffiti that could be seen on buildings the next day.

I also took the above photo of a man feeding birds by the bank of the Seine River on that trip.  I've always loved this photo because it seems quintessentially Parisian to me.  Both photos were taken with a disposable film camera, since I clumsily dropped my digital camera and broke it earlier in the trip.

In 2006 the new Campus Center opened, and a pep rally at the ice rink with the school's hockey team was held.  I took the above photo at the rally.

The annual White Out Hockey Game against Oswego's rival, SUNY Plattsburgh, always drew a crowd.  I snapped the above photo at the 2007 game.  Note the guy a few rows in front with the "Puck Flattsburgh" t-shirt.  I don't recall, but I'm thinking that one wasn't for sale in the college gift shop.

In the fall of 2007, our most famous alum, Al Roker, came to visit our campus and film the Today Show.  Unfortunately, I was standing JUST off camera but I poked my head view in for about half a millisecond, so I guess I can say I've been on national television!

The Campus Center often hosted open skate, where students could bring their own skates or rent them for $3.  I took the above photo my my own and two friends' feet.  Not pictured is a photo of my flat on my butt, which is usually how I eventually ended up at these things.  Let's just say I was not a born skater.

Sunsets by the shore of Lake Ontario are a quintessential part of the SUNY Oswego experience.  I took the above photo in the spring of 2008.

In honor of September 11 in 2008, a group of students and I put out mini flags in the ground around campus, one for every life lost on September 11, 2001.

Any SUNY Oswego alum will remember those signs they used to post by the elevators in the dorms that said "Lake Ontario pack ice is NOT solid!"  Don't worry, I didn't try to test the theory (I'm no fool!), but here's a photo of it that I snapped of it in early 2009.  By this time, I had upgraded my fully automatic Kodak EasyShare to a basic Canon PowerShot with some manual features.  I was starting to get serious about photography.

Most college students spend Spring Break partying it up with their friends, but in 2009 I went to visit my grandmother in Florida.  I had a blast!  Here's a photo I took of a pelican at Cocoa Beach.

In the spring of 2009, I was inducted into Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society.  At the induction ceremony, we sang the French national anthem, so I took this photo of the lyrics page.

A popular jaunt for Oswego students was heading out to Chimney Bluffs State Park, aka "The Bluffs," about a 40 minute drive west.  On a trip out there with my friends at the end of the Spring 2009 semester, I snapped this photo of the beautiful late afternoon sunlight peeking through the clouds.  Click here to order a print of this photo.

As the Spring 2009 semester came to an end and I was busy working on final essays and projects, I took this self-portrait.  I put my camera on the windowsill and set the timer.  I originally took it for a challenge on the Digital Photography School forums.

I captured this beautiful post-rainfall view out my dorm room window at the end of the Spring 2009 semester.  I originally shared this photo in my post The View from 718 Hart.

By the time I came back for my final semester in the fall of 2009, I had purchased a Sony α200, my first DSLR.  I took the above photo of a delicious ice cream cone (after I had already started devouring it) from Bev's, everyone's favorite place to grab some ice cream by the lake.

By this time, I was getting into practicing portrait photography with my 50mm lens.  My friend Erick was the model for this shot I took at Fort Ontario.

At the beginning of the fall semester, the big event everyone always went to was the New York State Fair in Syracuse.  This was certainly not an event I wanted to miss during my last semester at Oswego.  After spending a day at the fair with friends, I decided to ride the Fair-is Wheel (yes, they call it that).  At the top, I captured this photo, which has since become one of my most widely stolen photos (don't feel too bad; it's made me plenty of money, too!).

I took this photo by the shore of the lake after one of the last Oswego sunsets I enjoyed.  Click here to order a print of this photo.

You haven't really lived in Oswego unless you've stepped in goose...excrement.

The Campus Center gift shop was always stocked with lots of SUNY Oswego swag, especially apparel celebrating our hockey team.

I photographed this comedic performance at the Hewitt Student Union during the last Parents' Weekend of my college career.  While some students are mortified at the thought of having their parents come visit them for the weekend, I fully enjoyed having mine come out to see me every single year I was there.  A nice dinner at Canale's or Vona's (where they footed the bill!), the two local Italian restaurants, was usually a part of the weekend's itinerary.

Thursday night was always Margarita night at Azteca, the local Mexican restaurant.  Margaritas were discounted to $2.50 on Thursdays.  On the occasion of my last day of my first student teaching placement, I enjoyed one of these delicious libations that evening.

I captured this selfie in the window of the Hart Hall 7th floor lounge.  Bulletin boards decorated with the school's colors, green and gold, can be seen in the background.

In this photo, a fellow student poses in his costume at the Hart Hall Halloween party in the dorm's basement.

Hart Hall, a global living and learning community, hosted a Global Awareness Conference every fall.  Above is a photo I captured of a henna tattoo station.

This demonstration at the conference was held in the fitness center in Cooper Hall, attached to Hart.

One of the enviable features of Hart Hall that the other dorms on campus lacked was a kitchenette on each floor.  In the other dorms, there was just one in the basement.  Now, I used the kitchenette a lot, but I wasn't making meals like the one above.  More like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  It was still incredibly convenient though.

I can still taste this incredible veggie burger I used to buy every day at the Campus Center.  It.  Was.  So.  Good.

My friend Jess' face is illuminated by her laptop in this photo as she hangs out in my dorm room with me.

Graduation was nearing as I took this photo of my Magna Cum Laude sash and tassel sitting on top of my gown.

I opened this post with a photo of my first dorm room.  Here is a photo of my last dorm room, which is actually the room I occupied for 7 of my 9 semesters at Oswego.  I took this photo shortly before graduation.

I captured this sign by the elevator.

As graduation loomed closer, I started to get very sentimental and took photos of just about everything around campus, including the dining hall.  Here, the colorful cloths hanging from the ceiling of Cooper Dining Hall are reflected in the window, and the Campus Center can be seen outside in the background.

I captured this photo at an off-campus Hanukkah event with the Jewish Student Union.  Note the very cool soccer-themed menorah!

On the last day of student teaching at Oswego Middle School, my cooperating teacher bought this delicious cookie cake to be enjoyed with my last class of the day.  It was such a sweet and thoughtful ending to a very meaningful student teaching placement, and one that helped me realize that middle school was a really good fit for me (and good thing, because that's the level I ended up teaching!).

The night before graduation, the school hosts a sentimental dinner and champagne toast in Sheldon Hall, named for founder Edward Austin Sheldon, for graduates and their families.  My parents and grandmother attended the event with me.  I remember it as being very bittersweet.  I was certainly very excited about graduating, but nostalgia about the last 9 semesters certainly made it difficult.

This photo sums it all up!  For four and half years, those blue bins signified the beginning or end of a semester or school year.  I knew when I snapped this photo on December 19, 2009, with all my belongings in it, moving out of Hart Hall for the very last time, I would look at it for years to come and remember how simultaneously excited but nostalgic I felt in that moment, and that is exactly what happened.

My home and my roots are in Saratoga Springs but Oswego will always have a very special place in my heart!

To see more of my photography be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

All photos in this post © Samantha Decker and may not be reused without permission.

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  1. So nostalgic...and that last photo really hits hard!!!! ❤️

  2. No way!!!! i just finished my first two semesters at Oswego that is nuts I forgot you went there. maybe ill see you there sometime haha, but no seriously its freaking epic and I'm having a great time!

    1. I don’t know if I knew you were going there but I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far! It’s a great school.


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